Dreading Thanksgiving dinner with the family or the obligatory Christmas party?  Below are tips to keep from losing your mind or temper this holiday season.
1.  Set time limit.  Decide when you will be leaving before you arrive.  No matter how much love is in a family, sometimes the “love” gets on the last nerve.  It is important to know how much holiday cheer you can handle before you start to unravel.   The more stressful, the shorter the time limit.
2.  Exit plan.   What is your strategy for getting out when it is time to go?  Will a friend be calling you to provide a graceful out?   What can you say to keep your self respect and still be able to leave when you’re ready.
3.  Pretend you’re watching television.  When you start to feel overwhelmed, irritated, or uncomfortable, take a step back and observe the family like a sitcom.  Uncle Charlie’s shenanigans or mother-in-law’s pokes about grandchildren often look and feel different when we are able to view the show as a non-participant.
4.  Control yourself, not others.  Appreciate and accept loved ones as they are now.  What we can change is our reaction. We can’t change our relatives no matter how many times we try.
5.  Take breaks. When you feel yourself slipping or getting sucked into a black hole, go outside or use the bathroom. A few minutes away can turn down the intensity.
6.  Pause and breathe.  When you feel you are on the edge of sanity, breathe in the calm and breathe out the stress before you make any moves.  Push the stop button in your brain, take a moment to breathe, and refocus.  What are your options moving forward?
7.  Keep tabs on you.   Frequently scan yourself and look for tension, unhelpful thoughts, or uneasy feelings.  Observe and recalibrate as necessary. This is an opportunity to show up as the best version of yourself regardless of what versions your relatives choose.
8.  Reward yourself.  How will you treat yourself?  What is the planned  “congratulations, I made it” prize?
9.  Be thankful. What can you appreciate about your life right now? Your family? Yourself? Gratitude, particularly during stressful times, increases our resilience and strength.
10.  Take a nap.   The holidays can be exhausting.  Find time to rest, relax, and sleep.
Happy Holidays,
Sarah

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